An animal health company has warned vets, farmers and animal health advisors to be on the look out for signs of resistance to the anthelmintic triclabendazole (TCBZ) in cattle.

Merial says triclabendazole needs to be reserved as it can treat serious disease when used properly.

Merial’s veterinary advisor Callum Blair said: “History has taught us that in parasitology what happens in the southern hemisphere will almost inevitably be a problem in the future in the UK, and there are an increasing number of reported instances of triclabendazole resistance in beef and dairy cattle in Australia and South America.”

According to Merial, a study from Australia has shown resistance to TCBZ in naturally infected beef and dairy cattle. The research – conducted on seven south-eastern Australian beef farms and one dairy farm where treatment failure by TCBZ was suspected – saw 15 animals treated with TCBZ and another 15 used as controls.

According to the study, resistance was detected on the dairy farm and on four out of the seven beef farms, concluding TCBZ resistance is “widespread” in cattle in south-eastern Australia.

Resistance to TCBZ has also been found in dairy cattle in Peru and in cattle in Argentina. According to the Argentinian study, TCBZ treatment had no effect, even at double the recommended dose.

“This is an important issue, particularly for producers farming both sheep and cattle,” said Mr Blair. “We need to preserve TCBZ for use against immature fluke in sheep as they cause the potentially fatal acute form of the disease.

“Liver fluke is the same parasite in both species and the spread of resistant fluke from one species to another could have damaging consequences. It’s important for producers to develop a treatment regime with their animal health advisor or vet, which addresses this issue and uses alternative solutions for cattle.”

According to Merial, treatment options for cattle include a straight fluke product, or a combination endectocide.

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